FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Kathleen Krevetski, Treasurer, Town of Middlebury,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-348

First Selectman, Office of Selectman, Town of Middlebury,

 

 

Respondents

April 22, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 10, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

        After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

        1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S.

        2. It is found that by memorandum dated October 22, 1997 the complainant requested that the respondent provide her with a copy of the Abbreviated Budget Report and Abbreviated Revenue Report for years ending June 30, 1996 and June 30, 1997 (hereinafter "requested records" or "budget reports").

        3. Having failed to receive a copy of the requested records, the complainant, by letter dated and filed November 3, 1997, appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by failing to provide her with a copy of the requested records.

        4. It is found that the complainant , at the time of her request, was the treasurer of the town of Middlebury ("town").

        5. Section 1-18a(5), G.S., defines public records or files as "[a]ny recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method."

        6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., further provides:

Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15. Any agency rule or regulation, or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights granted by this subsection shall be void. [Emphasis added.]

        7. It is found that both budget reports are prepared by the town’s director of finance and maintained at his offices. The Abbreviated Budget Report outlines the town’s appropriations and expenditures while the Abbreviated Revenue Report reflects the town’s revenue.

        8. It is concluded that the budget reports are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        9. It is found that the respondent has not provided the complainant with a copy of the 1996 budget report however, he provided her with a copy of the 1997 budget report on November 12, 1997.

        10. With respect to the 1997 budget report, the respondent contends that the complainant was not provided with a copy of such report earlier because they were periodically being revised and not complete.

        11. It is found that from July 1997 the complainant had been trying to get the 1997 budget report from the director of finance and that he refused to provide her with a copy even though, between May and November 1997, he periodically provided copies to the boards of finance and selectmen.

        12. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent failed to prove that any exemption permitted nondisclosure of the 1997 budget report from the complainant until November 12, 1997.

        13. With respect to the 1996 budget report, such report is stored in a vault. The respondent contends that the complainant in her capacity as treasurer had access to such vault, and could therefore have gone into the vault and helped herself to the 1996 budget report. The complainant on the other hand, contends that she never had direct access to the vault, and that in the past she would gain access through either the clerk or the director of finance.

        14. Section 1-15(a), G.S., provides "[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record."

        15. It is found that the respondent never provided the complainant with a copy of the 1996 budget report.

        16. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a) G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the 1996 budget report, and by failing to promptly provide the complainant with a copy of the 1997 budget report.

        17. The complainant requested that the Commission order the respondent to attend an FOI Act workshop.

18. The Commission in its discretion declines to order that the respondent attend an FOI Act workshop at this time.

        The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

        1. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with a copy of the 1996 budget report without charge, if he has not already done so.

        2. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 22, 1998.

_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Kathleen Krevetski, Treasurer, Town of Middlebury
c/o Atty. Francis J. Grady
86 Buckingham Street
Waterbury, CT 06710-1998

First Selectman, Office of Selectman, Town of Middlebury
c/o Atty. Dana A. D’Angelo
Smith & Smith
P.O. Box 1263
459 Middlebury Road
Middlebury, CT 06762

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-348/FD/tcg/04271998